by Rep. Mike Nearman
Get on the bandwagon
First of all, I’m not a Republican because I like the color red or because I like elephants. I’m a Republican because the party articulates principles that I hold. You can look them up in the party platform. For me, success is not measured by gaining Republican numbers or even by Republicans winning elections. It’s measured by the advancement of those principles.
For far too long, the Democratic party has laid claim to the loyalty of people whose principles are not being advanced, including pro-life Catholics, socially conservative Latinos, blue collar workers, opportunity-seeking minorities and more. Over generations, these emotional ties erode and ideas become more important. Additionally, parties themselves no longer hold the sway they once did.
As a thought experiment, fast forward these trends, say, several decades out. The Democrats will have, say, 15% and the Republicans 13%. 72% of the people have no attachment to any party and have to make decisions based on ideas. They will look at decades of unemployment higher than the national average, Cover Oregon failures, the black money pit of light rail and vote out people who have responsibility for these things and vote for those who have ideas that work.
In the shorter term, the trend provides an opportunity. Republicans need to take our eyes off recruitment goals and party politics and focus on ideas. We need to look to the non-affiliated and minor parties and present winning ideas for good government. We’ll win over the conservative former Democrats who agree with us socially and fiscally. We’ll easily woo back Republicans by newly upholding the very principles that were abandoned by power-seeking elected Republicans.
The road to success for Republicans lies not in a “Democrat lite” set of policies. The great paradox is this: If we focus on party and power, we will lose party and power. Republicans need to focus on principles — on ideas — and in so doing, we will find success (see definition of success above).
State Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) is eagerly awaiting the Oregon Republican Party re-organization scheduled to take place February 28.